out of Five
Running time: 96
Skilfully highlighting the harsh realities of love across political boundaries, Out in the Dark is an intimate and affecting drama that slowly turns suspenseful, but the second act lacks focus and the chemistry between the two main actors just isn’t strong enough.
What’s it all about?
Co-written and directed by Michael Mayer, Out in the Dark stars Nicholas Jacob as Nimr, a hard-working Palestinian student determined to find a better life away from his West Bank home, where he lives with his mother, sister and extremist older brother, Nabil (Jamil Khoury). One night, after sneaking across the border to Tel Aviv, Nimr meets Roy (Michael Aloni), an affluent, Israeli lawyer and they quickly begin a passionate affair.
In fear of what both his family and the Palestinian society might do to him if they found out, Nimr is forced to keep his sexuality and relationship a secret. But when his flamboyant close friend, Mustafa (Loai Noufi) is murdered for hiding illegally and prostituting himself in Tel Aviv, Nimr’s secrets quickly begin to unravel, forcing him to make a choice between his love for Roy and the life he thought he wanted.
In his first major acting role, Nicholas Jacob puts on an impressive and affecting performance as the struggling protagonist Nimr, particularly in the third act, after his character’s private life is tragically exposed. These nail-biting scenes take the film into gripping thriller territory and tension reaches a boiling point after a game of cat and mouse between Nimr and the Palestinian authorities unfolds towards the end.
Los Angeles-based Israeli director Michael Mayer also impresses with his tender portrait of a forbidden gay romance, thankfully choosing to communicate the characters’ budding relationship through engaging dialogue, rather than contrived sex scenes (as is sometimes the case with this film genre).
Despite Nicholas Jacob’s strong performance, his chemistry with Michael Aloni just isn’t powerful enough for a film with this much romantic confliction. Arguably, it’s Aloni that’s miscast; his well-heeled character, Roy, just isn’t naturally likeable enough to be executed by a run-of-the-mill performance from an attractive actor. Finally, although the final third is thrillingly suspenseful, the second act lacks focus and the ambient soundtrack feels better suited to a low-rate action movie than an affecting drama like this one.
Despite Nimr and Roy’s lack of suitable chemistry, Out in the Dark (Alata)’s powerful narrative and suspenseful final act ensures it’s still worth a watch.
Out In The Dark (Alata) (15)